Some businesses in downtown Colorado Springs have experienced extreme ups and downs lately.
One business closed its doors, one is expanding, and yet another signed a one-year lease.
“I think we’re always disappointed to see any business leave downtown,” said Laurel Prud’homme, director of communications for the Downtown Partnership, “especially one that provides folks another option to dine or shop downtown.”
Possibly the only retail store in Colorado Springs that sells items made from elephant poo, Koru Street has signed a one-year lease.
Originally scheduled to open for the late-2012 holiday season only, Koru Street will now be open through the summer, said owner Amy Stretmater. After the holiday season, the business, located at 224 N. Tejon St., stayed open through January, and after a three-week hiatus in February, she reopened.
“We have a great landlord, and that enabled us to stick around,” Stretmater said. The landlord did not charge rent for a time period, she said.
After some soul-searching, she decided to reopen.
The shop now has a sign, and that makes business “definitely better, now that we have good signage.”
Koru Street sells purses, jewelry and artwork that is made from recycled materials, made from natural items, made locally or a mix of those. Most of the items come from overseas, like the stationery made from elephant dung, which is crafted in India, or necklaces made from tagua nuts, or earrings and bracelets made from inner tubes in India.
She purchases items only from places she’s personally been, “or I know the person who runs it,” she said.
Items such as soaps, lotions, candles and sculptures are crafted locally, she said.
Stretmater came back to Colorado Springs after losing her job in advertising in Chicago. In the six months between Chicago and Colorado Springs, she traveled overseas. During that time, she met people who sold the kind of eclectic items she now sells.
Stretmater’s retail shop is augmented by a wholesale business that she’s operated for the past four years. The store’s website is www.korustreet.com.
Koru means “new beginnings” in Maori, the native language of New Zealand.
Bruegger’s Bagels, which had been operating at 132 N. Tejon St., has closed its doors.
A sign posted on the door announced the store closing, effective Saturday, June 15. The bagel bakery, which also served lunch sandwiches, had been open since the spring of 2006.
The franchise owner, Phil Batchelor, decided to close the bakery, said Tracy Aiello, spokesperson for Bruegger’s.
“The corporation will look to Colorado Springs to replace the bakery, but there aren’t any plans at the moment,” Aiello said.
The company found competition nearby in the autumn of 2011, when Einstein Bros. Bagels opened and signed a 10-year lease at 32 N. Tejon.
Batchelor could not be reached to comment for this story.
Prud’homme said that because Bruegger’s had been in such a good location, “hopefully, that will attract new business.”
Peanut Butter & Jellies New York Deli was patterned after a similar shop in New York, said deli former owner Art Romero.
Romero sold the 106 E. Kiowa St. restaurant May 1. New owners Peg and David Parker recently expanded their Citadel Mall coffee shop, Xpresso Yourself, to include many of the sandwiches in Peanut Butter & Jellies. The mall store is called Xpresso Yourself and Peanut Butter & Jellies.
The restaurant offers New York deli-style meats and cheeses on old-world-style bagels.
The shop uses Serrano’s Coffee from Monument.
Both locations carry gluten-free items, and to maintain the integrity of the gluten-free items, they are created in a kitchen separate from the bakery that creates standard baked goods.
Romero continues to operate his retail gourmet peanut butter and jelly store at 101 N. Tejon, just around the corner from the restaurant. There, in addition to custom-made peanut butter and jellies, he sells soft-serve ice cream with peanut butter.
The goal of both Romero and the Parkers is to franchise the stores and restaurants, Romero said.
“If someone wanted to, they could role-model after us. We would train and set them up,” said Peg Parker.
Prud’homme said the Downtown Partnership is eager to work with people who want to locate or relocate downtown.
“We help people navigate the permitting process,” Prud’homme said.